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News and events in Pittsfield, Mass.

The Independent Investor: Changes to Social Security and Medicare Benefits
By Bill Schmick,
04:03PM / Thursday, January 10, 2019
As the year begins, those who are retired, or who plan to soon, need to know the changes the government has recently announced to your benefits.   The good news is that retirees will get a 2.8 percent increase in Social Security payments. While that doesn't sound like much, it happens to be the largest cost-of-living adjustment in seven years. What that amounts to for the average couple in retirement is about $67 per month, or an average monthly payment of $2,448.   If you are one of those workers like me, who waited until 70 years of age before collecting benefits and are considered a "high earner," then you will be receiving as much as $73 more per month up to

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Heating System Repairs Eyed For Reid Middle School
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:24PM / Thursday, January 10, 2019
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A few classrooms at Reid Middle School have been closed off because of high levels of carbon dioxide.    Superintendent Jason McCandless said on Wednesday that recent testing done by the state revealed the issue. He said the elevated levels of carbon dioxide stem from the heating exhaust system and that will need to be redone in February.    "We took them offline as heating season began out of an abundance of concern," McCandless said.    McCandless said the issue appears to have "been going on for some time." The classrooms are now closed off and he said the city's Building Maintenance Department has worked on

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Inauguration 2016
by Soapbox 02:00PM / Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Kids 4 Harmony Provided The Music At The Inauguration Reception
by Soapbox 08:38PM / Monday, January 06, 2014

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
by Soapbox 04:10PM / Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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Pittsfield Passes 5G Zoning Laws
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:26AM / Thursday, January 10, 2019
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — When 5G infrastructure is installed in city's rights of way, it'll have to look nice.   The City Council approved the proactive measure of updating its zoning regulations to ensure the streets aren't lined with unsightly technology. Tower and wireless companies are rolling out 5G technology throughout the nation and that will require a significant number of new towers and antennas.   The Federal Communications Commission approved a rule allowing tower companies to use municipal rights of way but new zoning will require them to avoid taking the cheapest route to do so.   "You have been granted the ability to regulate in terms of

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Pittsfield Schools Also Concerned With Government Shutdown's Impact
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:19AM / Thursday, January 10, 2019
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — North Adams isn't the only municipality worried that the government shutdown could lead to the end of the free lunch and breakfast program.   Assistant Superintendent Kristen Behnke reported Wednesday night that the schools have two months worth of savings in the bank account to keep the program going but if the shutdown continues, the program's funds would run dry. Behnke said the city has $774,000 to keep the program going but it costs $400,000 a month to run.   "It is a possibility we will not have the funding if the federal shutdown continues," Behnke said.   The program is funded through reimbursements by the U.S. Department of

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Easy New Year's Resolutions For Your Health
By Chrissy Garner, LDN,
11:35AM / Wednesday, January 09, 2019

As the clock struck midnight, and you were sipping and kissing away the last of 2018, you and millions of people were also making New Year's resolutions.

Among the popular ones: eat less, move more, cut back on sweets, quit smoking, volunteer, and spend more time with family. Few, if any, of these resolutions (especially those that are health-based), are actually kept. How many will still be priorities at the end of January?

For many of us, the path to good health is not an easy one. Procrastination, family obligations, work demands and lack of time and energy are just a few reasons that can halt best intentions in their tracks.

But consider these simple resolutions for 2019:

* Eat

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Roth vs. Traditional 401(k): Which Is Right for You?
11:27AM / Wednesday, January 09, 2019

For many years, employees of companies that offered 401(k) plans only faced a couple of key decisions: how much to contribute and how to allocate their dollars among the various investment options in their plan. But in recent years, a third choice has emerged: the traditional versus Roth 401(k). Which is right for you?

To begin with, you need to understand the key difference between the two types of 401(k) plans. When you invest in a traditional 401(k), you put in pre-tax dollars, so the more you contribute, the lower your taxable income. Your contributions and earnings grow tax-deferred until you begin taking withdrawals, which will be taxed at your ordinary tax rate. With a Roth 401(k),

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Pittsfield Council Approves Walden Lane Traffic Measure, Turf Field
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:36AM / Wednesday, January 09, 2019
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council spent much of its night Tuesday revisiting previously approved contracts.    It began with an issue of a traffic study. The residents of Walden Village had previously petitioned the council for improvements to the intersection of North Street and Walden Lane. The subdivision is home to mostly elderly residents who voiced fear about pulling onto the main road.   Commissioner of Public Services David Turocy said he opted to contract Fuss and O'Neill to do a traffic study to see if a stop light would be feasible there but it was determined that the intersection did not meet requirements to do so.   The recommendations called

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Berkshires First Recreational Marijuana Store Opens Friday
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:31AM / Wednesday, January 09, 2019
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The county's first recreational marijuana retailer opens its doors on Friday at 10 a.m.   Theory Wellness will be the first to sell retail, rather than medical, cannibis products in the Berkshires after being approved by the state's Cannabis Control Commission last month.   "This is the beginning of a movement in the Berkshires," CEO Brandon Pollock said.   Theory opened as the county's first medical marijuana dispensary in September 2017 and will also be the first to include recreational sales. It was originally formed in 2015 and constructed the 2,500 square-foot facility for the medical marijuana

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Big Y Plans to Eliminate Single-Use Plastic Bags in 2020
Staff Reports,
05:32PM / Tuesday, January 08, 2019
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Both Berkshire County cities last year spent months, if not years, talking about banning single-use plastic bags but they might find business is moving ahead of them.    Big Y Foods Inc., one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England, will eliminate its use of the bags from all 70 of its markets, specialty stores and Big Y Express Gas and Convenience locations in 2020.   That decision was prompted, in part, by local towns that have already prohibited the use of the bags. The 83-year-old company says it has been complying with bag bans in Adams (which launched a free bag initiative), Amherst, Great Barrington, Lee,

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Tyer Delivers State of the City Address
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:04AM / Tuesday, January 08, 2019

All city department heads were on hand for the address. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Linda Tyer believes her administration is "designing our home" for the future.   The mayor delivered a 45-minute state of the city address at Taconic High School on Monday night, emphasizing some of the successes seen in 2018 and introducing a couple new initiatives for the coming year.   It was the mayor's third address and Taconic High School was chosen to host it because "the very existence of this new school is a reflection of perseverance, resilience, and determination."   "It is the flagship of our future. Some of you have already experienced

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Berkshires Beat: Winners of the Pittsfield Photo Challenge Announced
02:51PM / Monday, January 07, 2019
The winners are ...

This past fall, Downtown Pittsfield Inc. held a photo challenge to find the photo that best captures why downtown Pittsfield is the "Heart of the Berkshires." Entrants were encouraged to capture photos that showcased the beauty and personality of downtown Pittsfield, keeping in mind the theme "Heart of the Berkshires."

The first-place winner, as determined by a panel of local judges, is Zach Morris of Pittsfield. His photo, titled "Tropical Pittsfield," has won him a prize package donated by local downtown businesses, and his photo will be featured in Pittsfield's 2019 Downtown Guide and a Downtown Pittsfield Inc. social marketing

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Messy Winter Weather on the Menu This Week
01:48PM / Monday, January 07, 2019
 

Did someone order snow?

The National Weather Service originally issued a "Hazardous Weather Outlook" for the Berkshires and southern Vermont for basically the entire first half of this week, then upgraded it to a "Winter Weather Advisory" for 3 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday for the first leg of the multi-day storm.

Monday's cold temperatures will push in some snow overnight tonight, with an inch or 2 possible to the south and up to 3 inches in the northern part of the county. Then, as temperatures rise a bit Tuesday morning, there could be a mix of snow and sleet before the precipitation changes to freezing rain and then plain rain throughout the afternoon.

When

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